The gospel message proclaimed by Christ's disciples was the announcement of His first advent to the world. It bore to men the good tidings of salvation through faith in Him. It pointed forward to His second coming in glory to redeem His people, and it set before men the hope, through faith and obedience, of sharing the inheritance of the saints in light. This message is given to men today, and at this time there is coupled with it the announcement of Christ's second coming as at hand. The signs which He Himself gave of His coming have been fulfilled, and by the teaching of God's word we may know that the Lord is at the door.
John in the Revelation foretells the proclamation of the gospel message just before Christ's second coming. He beholds an angel flying “in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” Revelation 14:6, 7.
In the prophecy this warning of the judgment, with its connected messages, is followed by the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. The proclamation of the judgment is an announcement of Christ's second coming as at hand. And this proclamation is called the everlasting gospel. Thus the preaching of Christ's second coming, the announcement of its nearness, is shown to be an essential part of the gospel message.
The Bible declares that in the last days men will be absorbed in worldly pursuits, in pleasure and money-getting. They will be blind to eternal realities. Christ says, “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37-39.
So it is today. Men are rushing on in the chase for gain and selfish indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter. In Noah's day the warning of the flood was sent to startle men in their wickedness and call them to repentance. So the message of Christ's soon coming is designed to arouse men from their absorption in worldly things. It is intended to awaken them to a sense of eternal realities, that they may give heed to the invitation to the Lord's table.
The gospel invitation is to be given to all the world—“to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” Revelation 14:6. The last message of warning and mercy is to lighten the whole earth with its glory. It is to reach all classes of men, rich and poor, high and low. “Go out into the highways and hedges,” Christ says, “and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.”
The world is perishing for want of the gospel. There is a famine for the word of God. There are few who preach the word unmixed with human tradition. Though men have the Bible in their hands, they do not receive the blessing that God has placed in it for them. The Lord calls upon His servants to carry His message to the people. The word of everlasting life must be given to those who are perishing in their sins.
In the command to go into the highways and hedges, Christ sets forth the work of all whom He calls to minister in His name. The whole world is the field for Christ's ministers. The whole human family is comprised in their congregation. The Lord desires that His word of grace shall be brought home to every soul.
The mission of the church of Christ is to save perishing sinners. It is to make known the love of God to men and to win them to Christ by the efficacy of that love. The truth for this time must be carried into the dark corners of the earth, and this work may begin at home. The followers of Christ should not live selfish lives; but, imbued with the Spirit of Christ, they should work in harmony with Him.
There are causes for the present coldness and unbelief. The love of the world and the cares of life separate the soul from God. The water of life must be in us, and flowing out from us, springing up into everlasting life. We must work out what God works in. If the Christian would enjoy the light of life, he must increase his efforts to bring others to the knowledge of the truth. His life must be characterized by exertion and sacrifices to do others good; and then there will be no complaints of lack of enjoyment.
Angels are ever engaged in working for the happiness of others. This is their joy. That which selfish hearts would consider humiliating service, ministering to those who are wretched and in every way inferior in character and rank, is the work of the pure, sinless angels in the royal courts of heaven. The spirit of Christ's self-sacrificing love is the spirit which pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss.
Those who feel no special pleasure in seeking to be a blessing to others, in working, even at a sacrifice, to do them good, cannot have the spirit of Christ or of heaven; for they have no union with the work of heavenly angels and cannot participate in the bliss that imparts elevated joy to them. Christ has said: “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” If the joy of angels is to see sinners repent, will it not be the joy of sinners, saved by the blood of Christ, to see others repent and turn to Christ through their instrumentality? In working in harmony with Christ and the holy angels we shall experience a joy that cannot be realized aside from this work.
The principle of the cross of Christ brings all who believe under heavy obligations to deny self, to impart light to others, and to give of their means to extend the light. If they are in connection with heaven they will be engaged in the work in harmony with the angels.
The principle of worldlings is to get all they can of the perishable things of this life. Selfish love of gain is the ruling principle in their lives. But the purest joy is not found in riches nor where covetousness is always craving, but where contentment reigns and where self-sacrificing love is the ruling principle. There are thousands who are passing their lives in indulgence and whose hearts are filled with repining. They are victims of selfishness and discontent in the vain effort to satisfy their minds with indulgence. But unhappiness is stamped upon their very countenances, and behind them is a desert, because their course is not fruitful in good works.
In proportion as the love of Christ fills our hearts and controls our lives, covetousness, selfishness, and love of ease will be overcome, and it will be our pleasure to do the will of Christ, whose servants we claim to be. Our happiness will then be proportionate to our unselfish works, prompted by the love of Christ.
The Saviour's words, “Ye are the light of the world,” point to the fact that he has committed to his followers a world-wide mission. As the rays of the sun penetrate to the remotest corners of the globe, so God designs that the light of the gospel shall extend to every soul upon the earth. If the church of Christ were fulfilling the purpose of our Lord, light would be shed upon all that sit in darkness and in the region and shadow of death; instead of congregating together and shunning responsibility and cross-bearing, the members of the church would scatter into all lands, letting the light of Christ shine out from them, working as he did for the salvation of souls, and this “gospel of the kingdom” would speedily be carried to all the world.
From all countries the Macedonian call is sounding, “Come over and help us.” God has opened fields before us. Heavenly beings have been cooperating with men. Providence is going before us, and divine power is working with human effort. Blind indeed must be the eyes that do not see the working of the Lord, and deaf the ears that do not hear the call of the true Shepherd to his sheep. Some have heard the call of God, and have responded. Let every sanctified heart now respond, by seeking to proclaim the life-giving message. If men and women in humility and faithfulness will take up their God-given, appointed work, divine power will be revealed in the conversion of many to the truth. Wonderful will be the results of their efforts.
The Lord is bidding his people in every place to sow beside all waters. It means much to obey his command. It means a continual imparting of the gifts we have received from Heaven. The cause of God needs consecrated workers, and it needs money. Shall we continue to spend our means for things that are unessential, while a neglected work remains undone? Shall we not rather repent of our indifference toward this work, and pray for spiritual discernment to see and understand, as we should, its urgent needs?
The spirit of liberality is the spirit of heaven. Christ's self-sacrificing love is revealed upon the cross. That man might be saved, he gave all that he had and then gave himself. The cross of Christ appeals to the benevolence of every follower of the blessed Saviour. The spirit here illustrated is to give, give. This carried out in actual benevolence and good works, is the true fruit of the Christian life.
The work of God needs men and women who have learned of Christ. The moment God's workmen see him as he is, that moment they will see themselves as they are, and will ask him to make them what they ought to be. Selfishness makes men hindrances instead of helps. In God's light we can see our defects; and in his strength we can remedy them.
At the final day, when the earth shall perish, he who has laid up treasures in heaven will behold that which his life has gained. If we have given heed to the words of Christ, then, as we gather round the great white throne, we shall see souls who have been saved through our agency, and shall know that one has saved others, and these still others,—a large company brought into the haven of rest as the result of our faithful labors, there to lay their crowns at Jesus’ feet, and praise him through the ceaseless ages of eternity. With what joy will the workers for Christ behold these redeemed ones, who share the glory of the Redeemer! How precious will heaven be to those who have been faithful in the work of saving souls!
The nearer we come to the close of this earth's history, the more delusive will be the snares of the enemy. As time passes, his attacks will grow fiercer and more frequent. Satan's supreme effort is made to ensnare and deceive if possible the very elect,—the church and the ministers of Christ. With all their ingenuity he and his agencies are working to deceive if possible the very elect. If he can lull them to indifference to their high calling, his triumph is certain. What is needed at this time is thorough conversion and whole-hearted consecration. He who is closely connected with Christ will be strengthened to withstand the enemy's devices. Our safety lies in practising heartily the truths of the Bible. By humbling ourselves before God, we invite his saving power.
A great work is to be done in foreign fields; and just as verily a great work is to be done in the home field; for it is by consecrated, faithful effort in the home field that workers are to be won for God who will go forth to proclaim the truth in foreign fields. At this time, when the enemy is working as never before to engross the minds of men and women, we should be laboring with increasing activity. Diligently, disinterestedly, we are to proclaim the last message of mercy in the cities—in the highest ways and byways. All classes are to be reached. As we labor, we shall meet with different nationalities. None are to be passed by unwarned. The Lord Jesus was the gift of God to the entire world—not to the higher classes alone, and not to one nationality, to the exclusion of others. His saving grace encircles the world. Whosoever will, may drink of the water of life. A world is waiting to hear the message of present truth. And while the servants of God are aroused to give the light, all nationalities are represented as pressing into service as instrumentalities of divine choosing.